Rescue Me

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Rescue Me TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Complex, mature show isn't meant for younger viewers.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Characters appreciate loyalty, friendship, teamwork, and other positive values, but they also behave in ways that are iffy at best -- drinking too much, cheating on significant others, etc. The show respects the dangers that firefighters face on a daily basis.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite plenty of bad habits, these very-human characters generally try to do the right thing. They drink too much but realize it's a problem and try to get help. Sometimes they break the law, but they analyze every side of their moral dilemmas and try to find some legitimate justifications for their choices.


The firefighters are frequently in danger on the job and sometimes engage in pretty realistic fights off the job.


Plenty of sex, talking about sex, and arguments between sexual partners. Some pretty graphic sexual scenes in many episodes (but not all), including partial nudity. Characters have affairs.


Extremely foul. Just about every bad word imaginable, and a few creative new ones.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tommy is a struggling alcoholic, and it's not pretty when he falls off the wagon. Several other characters also drink heavily, and some take drugs. This show doesn't shy away from portraying both the fun times and the ugly lows that come from both. Many characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rescue Me is an unflinching look at the lives of firefighters. These rough-and-tumble men -- and the occasional woman -- put their lives on the line when they go to work, and their language is as rough as the situations they face. When they're not fighting fires, they're usually crass, sometimes violent, often drunk, and always looking for either sex or love, though not always at the same time. In short, they're very human, very flawed, and very real.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRavenFilmsAndReviews November 26, 2012

Appropriate for older teens or adults

Parents should know that the firefighters in this show are very human and the situations they face are ones that can affect everyone. Although the are unflinchi... Continue reading
Adult Written byJRCrews20 June 21, 2012

Great show, not for kids

Despite the inappropriate content for most kids, the show has probably the best storyline of any modern TV show I have seen. Dennis Leary did a fantastic job po... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNotMarz November 19, 2020

It depends on the maturity.

Rescue Me is about Firefighter Tommy Gavin (Dennis Leary), and his day to day life. The series shows the ups and downs of being apart of a firefighter. This sho... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 19, 2009


Nothing really bad in this show. Some Cursing, but not constant. Discussion of sex.

What's the story?

Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) has problems. He's an alcoholic who's hardly trying to control his drinking, his ex-wife hates him even more than most divorcees hate their former husbands, and he sometimes finds himself having conversations with dead friends and family members. The one place where Tommy, the senior firefighter at a busy New York firehouse, feels on solid ground is at work. Though this compelling and realistic drama centers on Tommy and his complicated life, his co-workers are also important characters with plenty of their own problems -- and helping his fellow firefighters sort through their issues helps Tommy (and viewers) realize that everybody's life can sometimes get pretty messy.

Is it any good?

Though the firefighting scenes are exciting, the strength of RESCUE ME is that the characters' problems and crises are all very believable; watching Tommy and his pals try to figure out what to do with their lives feels like it could be anyone trying to muddle through life. Viewers might be put off by the language; firefighters can't really be expected to watch their words when battling a blaze, and the station house seems much like a lived-in locker room, but these guys are incredibly foul-mouthed by any standard. There's not a bad word ever coined that they don't use liberally, and they make up plenty more that are creatively explicit.

Still, Rescue Me goes a step beyond the standard hospital or police station ensemble drama because its characters have more going on in their lives than what happens at work. That said, the level of complication and complex shades of gray in those lives make the series iffy for all but the most mature teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they would react to some of the conflicts that Tommy and his pals face. The show creates extreme but realistic situations that require the characters to make difficult choices. In one important storyline, for example, Tommy, his father, and his uncle take justice into their own hands. What do teens think they would do in a similar situation?

  • Do the ends ever justify the means? What can people do when they believe the law has failed them?

TV details

  • Premiere date: July 21, 2004
  • Network: FX
  • Genre: Drama
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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